When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you.”(Mark 2:5)
Jesus saw their faith.
We think of faith as an attitude, intangible and invisible, something we feel or we don’t.
We cannot see faith. But the Lord Jesus Christ does. He sees faith. He can tell in an instant whether faith is present and if it is the real thing.
Now, let’s clear up one thing right up front: Everyone lives by faith. Everyone. The fiercest agnostic and most confirmed atheist share this in common with believers: we all live by faith.
We demonstrate faith every time we board a plane. We do not know the designers or builders, the mechanics, pilots or air controllers. Yet, without checking their credentials, we hand our boarding pass to the agent and walk on and strap ourselves in, fully expecting to get to our destination. Faith.
We show faith every time we drive onto the highway. Cars whiz by us at high rates of speed, each one posing a hazard to all the rest. Yet, we hardly give it a thought, demonstrating incredible faith in people we don’t even know.
We go to a doctor who diagnoses something we never heard of, he writes a prescription we cannot read, and we take it to a pharmacist we don’t know who hands us pills we don’t recognize. We open wide and swallow.
When church is over Sunday, many of us will go to a restaurant. Dining out is a supreme act of faith. Where was the food grown and how? How was it prepared and by whom?
We live by faith.
The big questions, therefore, are not whether we have faith, but in whom we have faith and where is the evidence that we do?
Jesus Christ is the only One worthy of our total faith and trust for matters of the soul and of eternity. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
So you believe in Jesus, do you? Where is the evidence?
Show us your faith.
What does faith look like today? Answer: It looks the same as it did in Bible times.
Faith is often ordinary people doing remarkable, unlikely, dangerous, unpopular, costly, lonely, risky things because of their confidence in Jesus Christ.
Now, it’s true that faith normally is not heroic or dramatic. It cost us nothing but a minor inconvenience to come to church today and worship, to give a tithe to the Lord’s work, and to teach our lesson or offer our prayers.
But sometimes it costs a great deal. That’s when our faith is best on display. That’s when it becomes most visible.
Here are four examples from Scripture of people demonstrating bold, God-honoring faith.
1. Bringing a friend to Jesus against great difficulty.
The four men of Mark 2 went to a lot of trouble to get their paralyzed buddy to the Master. They had to plan this, get the materials together, meet at the agreed-upon time, and decide how to maneuver the patient onto the pallet for transport. They physically carried him down the road to the house where Jesus stood inside teaching. Unable to get through a door or window, they carried their friend onto the roof, tore open the tiles and lowered him inside.
There is nothing like this in all the rest of Scripture.
Jesus was impressed.
When Jesus saw their faith. It was the faith of the four that so impressed Him and sent Him into action on behalf of their friend.
Question: How have your friends been blessed as a result of your faith?
2. Standing up against a formidable enemy 100 times your size.
I love the story of King Hezekiah resisting the entire Assyrian army, the mighty war machine of the 8th century B.C. These people had conquered everything in their path, including nations far more fearsome than little Judah. They had made short work of the northern kingdom of Israel, and now they came calling at Jerusalem.
The king and generals of Assyria were astonished that Hezekiah would hold out against them. The very idea! This was a no-brainer.
The general sent a message into the city. “King Sennacherib wants to know: What is this confidence you have?” (II Kings 18:19)
I love that question.
He followed the question with a litany of nations whose scalps he was carrying. He had run out of space on his weapons to cut notches. No one had successfully withstood Assyria, least of all pipsqueak countries like Judah.
This story, found in II Kings 18 and 19, is one of the great sagas of the Old Testament, one that inspires God’s people to this day.
Facing an enemy many times your size, one no one has successfully gone up against, when to surrender is the logical thing, and holding your ground. That’s faith made visible.
May you and I so live and act and speak that outsiders will be puzzled and ask, “What is this confidence you have?”
3. Making a sacrificial gift to the Lord’s work.
In Mark 12, Jesus pointed out the widow giving her last two coins into the Lord’s House treasury. Others had pitched in from their surplus, He said, but she gave all she had, thus contributing more than anyone else.
That’s faith: bringing an offering you need for other things to the Lord.
Take a look at the believers in the Macedonian churches. In a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality…. According to their ability–and beyond their ability–they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift…. (II Corinthians 8:2-4)
Faith giving means courageously making that offering to the Lord’s work when you don’t have much, you have other uses for that money, when common sense cautions you against giving it, and when no one else is doing such a thing.
What does your offering today say about your faith?
4. Trusting Jesus against all odds.
Luke 23 gives us the account of the two thieves with whom our Lord died that day outside Jerusalem. As the crowd at the foot of the middle cross raged, one of the dying thieves called over, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
Now, there is faith: putting trust in a dying Lord who appears to be weakness incarnate, when no one else is trusting Him, when to do so looks like the ultimate foolishness on your part.
The Lord said to the man, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:42-43).
Now, what does unFaith look like?
Unfaith always does the safe thing.
It is risk averse. It checks to see what is safe, wise, popular, accepted, and guaranteed.
–Unfaith will not bring a friend to Jesus because it might be troublesome, might take extra effort, might be controversial, and might offend someone.
Unfaith in a believer says, “I will witness to my friend if he brings the subject up and no one objects.”
–Unfaith gives in to the enemy, fearing opposition more than the displeasure of the Lord.
Unfaith in a believer says, “There’s no sense in standing up to these people. They always win.”
–Unfaith will not give sacrificially to the Lord’s work because the money is needed for other things, to do so might upset someone in the family, and we plan to give generously just as soon as we have extra.
Unfaith in a believer says, “I will give more just as soon as I can afford it.”
Where is the faith in doing the safe thing?
Hebrews 11:6 says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”
Luke 18:8 asks, “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?”
To please God and honor the Lord Jesus, we will live and act by faith.
–We will praise Him when everything is going great and when it isn’t.
–We will pray to Him when we are feeling spiritual and close to Him and when He seems far away and our prayers bounce off the ceiling.
–We will worship regardless of how we feel, what others do, whether anyone encourages it. “He giveth songs in the night” (Job 35:10).
No one expressed it better than Job, who said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15).
Speaking of such warriors of the past who did the hard thing and served God against great odds, when it was unpopular, when they could barely see the next step, when everyone counseled against it, the writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God” (Heb. 11:16).
Make Him proud, Christian.
Do something by faith today.